5 Tips to Master your Workflow & Avoid Burnout
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5 Tips to Master your Work LOAD & Avoid Burnout
Avoiding burnout, staying inspired and mastering my workload has been the biggest struggle I have had freelancing. After a lot of hard work (and heart work) I finally feel like I am at a good place.
Burnout was one of the most popular subjects during our #JuneStoryChallenge and it was SO helpful to know that I was not alone. Running your own business is hard work, but I believe that running your own design business is a special type of hard work. Because there were so many others sharing about their seasons of burnout, I wanted to share some of my biggest tips when it comes to creating a HEALTHY (and sustainable) design biz. But first…
a little bit of background into my seasons of burnout…
When you first start freelancing, you want clients so desperately that is like you don’t think about how many you have at one time. You just say yes to anyone and everything because you have to pay the bills ya know? But as my business started to grow, I began on taking on more and more. During the three full-time years of my business, I’ve gone through two major seasons of burnout (if you want to hear the full story behind these seasons, you can listen to my Instagram highlight called Burnout)
In January, while in the midst of my second major season of burnout I randomly got a job offer. For the first time ever, the idea of getting a “normal” job felt like a HUGE weight was being taken off of my shoulders and I strongly considered it. WHAT. Talk about a wake up call. That was when I knew that if I wanted to do this long term, things HAD to change. So I did a major overhaul in my little business. I didn’t take on any new projects for a couple of months and just really spent time re-assessing my business and finding solutions so that this cycle of burnout would stop. (It feels really weird to share that here on my website, but I think this is such an important conversation to have)
This has been something I have had to evaluate, re-adjust a billion times and has been one of the HARDEST things in my business to figure out. I finally feel like I am getting into a good grove and wanted to share what has helped me:
1 — KNOW YOUR WHY(S).
To have any sort of successful business, it’s essential that you know your “why.” Although I technically knew my “why,” I need to constantly remind myself of it. I also realized that I have more than one “why.” There is my “business why” which I’ve always known, but I also realized that I have a handful of other, more “personal whys” that are huge reasons why I started my business that had gotten completely lost in the hustle. Take some time to really know both your “big why” and your “personal whys.” Write them down. Hang them up. Make sure you are filtering everything in your business through these why(s).
My “Business Why”
To encourage, help and and cheer others on as they go after their biggest God-sized dreams.
My “Personal Why(s)”
To be able to work + travel from wherever I want
To be able to spend extended periods of time visiting with family
To be able to support my future family while having the freedom and flexibility of being present.
2— EVALUATE YOUR TASKS & CREATE SYSTEMS.
Now that you know your whys, it’s time to create systems in your business that can help you to take some of the stress of daily tasks off of your plate. I did a huge brain dump and wrote down all of the tasks I do in my business and I was amazed at the amount of stuff I try to cram into each and every week. In hopes to focus on what’s important, I filtered all of my tasks into three questions; these will be different for everyone but here were mine:
Does it align with my why(s)?
Does is bring joy? (Lol hi Marie Kondo)
Does it bring profit?
Depending on the answers, I then wrote letters by each one:
K = keep
O = outsource
A = automate
T = Trash
I ended up narrowing down my weekly task list into to less than HALF of what it was before. In the future, I hope to pare down even further but I know magic happens when you are able to strip away all the excess "fluff" in order to focus on what truly matters.
ExampleS of some of MY task evaluation:
Automating my inquiry process, creating systems within my project management system, having email response templates typed out and in my gmail to make responses quicker + easier.Outsourcing things like Pinterest management, copywriting, and some smaller design tasks.Scratching things like: posting to social media every day, trying to keep every platform up to date and taking on projects that don’t align with my mission.
3 — CREATE A PLAN.
Now that you know your “whys” and have created systems, it’s time to figure out your perfect work situation. Look back into your business and pinpoint the times where you felt like you were thriving. For me, this meant looking back into my business and finding times where I felt like I had a healthy work-life balance, where I felt inspired and where I loved the work that I was creating. Once you are able to pinpoint those times, really take time to analyze them and figure out what you were doing in your business that was allowing you to feel this way. How can you get back to that?
For me, this also meant taking time to really analyze how many clients that I could take on at a time while still feeling like I was giving each and every client the 100% they deserved. Once you figure that number out, ask yourself if you still have time for admin tasks, passion projects and LIFE in there?
Something that helped me was taking my “keep tasks” and making an “ideal work week” and really making myself stick to that work week as much as I could. When faced with the option of adding more to my plate, I only allowed myself to do it if it could fit within my schedule.
PRO-TIP: always take on less than you think you can handle
Now that you have a plan for how much you are going to take on, make sure that you STICK TO IT. And if you really want to set yourself up for success, always take on even less than you think you can handle. This little trick has helped me in a few different ways over the past couple of months.
• This method gives me some “wiggle room” if I have projects that take longer than I originally thought.
Because I have taken on less than I can handle, I have had space to dream, plan, scale and create that I never would have had before.
One of the coolest ways that I have seen this work in my business is when an absolute DREAM client reached out to me. If this was last year, I would have had to tell them that I was completely booked and that my next available slot was months away. Because they are on a bit of a timeline, they most likely would have had to go with someone else and I would have been really sad. Because I had room in my schedule, I was able to say “yes” to this project that I would have otherwise missed out on.
4— RE-EVALUATE YOUR PRICING.
You’ve figured out your ideal workload, now it’s time to re-evaluate your pricing. Now that you are taking on less in your business, you will most likely need to raise your prices. Raising your prices always feels scary, but now that you are taking on less, you are able to give 100% of yourself to each and every project that you do decide to take on. That, in itself, is priceless. If you still feel afraid to raise your prices, look at your packages and processes and find ways to add in extra value. Here are some of my favorite ways to add value to my packages:
An extensive brand strategy
A Client Welcome Guide
A brand standards manual so that your clients know how to confidently implement their new branding.
Collateral Pieces included
5 — LISTEN TO YOUR GUT.
This is possible the most under-rated business advice ever: Listen to your gut. Every time that I’ve ignored my gut and said yes to something that my gut was telling me i shouldn’t have, I’ve regretted it. Listening to your gut can be hard when you’ve ignored it for so long, but I think it is the biggest tool for avoiding burnout.
QUESTION FOR YOU!
If I were to create a resource to help you create a plan for a healthy (and sustainable) design biz, is that something you would be interested in? (feel free to comment, email or DM me your thoughts!)